This student applied in the 2017/18 application cycle and therefore the selection process at Southampton may have changed since then. You should read all the information a University sends you about the selection process to get the most up to date details!
Remember to check out the glossary at the bottom of the page for our explanations of all the jargon we medical students like to use!
Course: Gateway year entry (BM6)
In-person panel interview with group task
Admissions Tests: UCAT, BMAT
Recommended Resources: Get Into Medical School – 1250 UKCAT Practice Questions by Oliver Picard.
Before I made my application…
Choosing to study medicine
When did you decide to apply to medical school? In my first year of college/sixth form. I did some work experience in a hospital which fostered my interest.
How did you choose which universities to apply to?
I was quite open in terms of location so I simply applied to my strengths. I looked at the entry requirements and stratified each university into groups of whether or not I would fit. I then took some time to learn about the teaching and assessment at each. I also applied to 2 BMAT and 2 UCAT universities simply to split the risk.
Completing work experience
What types of work experience did you do?
Hospital shadowing, Care work (e.g. in residential care), Customer service role (voluntary)
How much work experience did you do?
I had quite a lot of work experience but most people don’t have this. I spend some time with a consultant anaesthetist and ophthalmologist.
The amount of experience is completely irrelevant, it’s what you learnt and how you reflect on this experience that’s of the upmost importance. Even if you have no work experience, reflecting on volunteering or paid jobs is equally as valuable.
How did you find your work experience opportunities?
Through a formal scheme or work experience placement, Through asking someone I knew to take me on
During the application process…
What admissions test did you sit?
University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT): https://www.ucat.ac.uk/
Biomedical Admissions Test (BMAT): Southampton doesn’t use the BMAT to select applicants and the BMAT won’t be used after the 2023 application cycle!
How did you prepare for your admissions test?
The UCAT isn’t a test you can revise for but you can prepare. Doing the past papers a few times and getting a textbook with practice questions and walk through a can help. Do these under timed conditions, this is the most important advice. It’s very time pressured so you need to practice the timings.
For BMAT you can definitely revise for parts of this. Again, practice papers and questions help a lot for section 1. For section 2, revising basic GCSE level sciences helps. It’s very likely your Chemistry and Biology knowledge will be A-level but Physics is often not studied by medical applicants and will be included in the BMAT. It’s important to practice with mental arithmetic and methods as no calculators are allowed. Section 3 is difficult to prepare for but using mock questions, developing your own structure and again, doing this in timed conditions is best.
What resources did you use?
Get Into Medical School – 1250 UKCAT Practice Questions by Oliver Picard.
Past papers and practice questions.
What type of interview did you do?
Panel: This type of interview is a ‘traditional’ sit down interview where you’ll be interviewed by a group of people, usually academic tutors and doctors. This differs from an MMI interview, which is based around ‘stations’ which have themes or scenarios attached to them.
Group task: At Southampton, most interviews have a group task, where multiple candidates are interviewed together.
How did you prepare for your interview?
First thing to say is I didn’t pay for anything! Best thing to do is keep up to date with any current affairs within healthcare in the news. A lot of the questions are either ethics based or about you and how you think. So just be yourself, too much prep can come across as artificial. Know your personal statement inside and out and prepare good answers to the common “Why?” questions.
What happened in your interview?
The interview was in two parts, a panel interview and a group task. The panel interview was very relaxed and conversational, no where near as stressful as MMI’s I did at other universities. (This is just one student’s opinion, it might not be the same for you!)
There were 2 interviewers both were very nice, some questions were direct and about me or my personal statement, others were more of discussion to see how I think and rationalise. The whole thing was around 30 minutes
The group task is around 6-8 other candidates with 2 interviewers observing. You’re given a task to discuss, usually something ethical but not always related to medicine. The key thing to remember is that it’s a “group” interview. Although the content of your answers will be important, how you interact within a team is the most important aspect.
Gateway year course: A gateway year course has an additional year at the start of the course, meaning it will last 6 years. Gateway courses are designed for students who wouldn’t meet the standard requirements for entry to medicine, so they are aimed at widening participation into medicine. The best way to see if you are eligible is to check the individual university website to find out the requirements and criteria.
Clinical work experience: Not every student will complete clinical work experience before they apply to medical school. Don’t worry, this is not required to be able to apply. You can use non-clinical work experience (e.g. a caring role, like in a care home) or even reflect on paid work you’ve done (e.g. in customer service) in a productive way.
Books: Don’t worry if you’ve not been able to find this particular book or afford to pay for it. You might be able to find secondhand copies online which are usually much cheaper, or at your local library (sometimes, libraries will order in books that you’ve requested, so check out this as a possibility too!). Bear in mind that some books may become out of date, so make sure you check when they were published, and if any changes to the relevant admissions tests/interviews have been made since then.